Tramlines Sheffield Preview
Although not officially part of the festival, a host of stellar acts takeover the City Music Hall Saturday 21st July for a gig that’s got our hearts racing, and here’s why…
Words: Phil Weller
Whilst the only official Tramlines venue this year is the tree dotted fields of Hillsborough Park, venues throughout Steel City are hosting their own events to help transform the country’s fifth largest city into a bustling music hub, celebrating a huge array of genres and artists over the weekend 20-22 July. But there’s one billing in particular that has Manchester Rocks swooning like a 80s teenage girl over David Lee Roth, one that sees Iceland’s Agent Fresco, a band we fell completely and utterly in love with in Barcelona in 2015, headline. The rest of the line up, might we add, includes some incredible up and coming acts, many of whom we’ve already championed on the site.
Agent Fresco, Gallops, Jamie Lenman, Jo Quail, KOYO, Pijn, Svalbard, Talons,
The Physics House Band
When, in late June of 2015, MR arrived in Barcelona for the two day Be Prog festival in the gorgeous square of Poble Espanyol, there was only one band across the entire line-up that we didn’t anticipate with any form of excitement or, at the very least, a mild intrigue. Yet when they took to the stage all that changed in an instant.
“The tight, single coil attack of guitarist Þórarinn Guðnason’s jittering and ground shaking riffs bounce off the rhythm section and great a bedrock for a truly dreamlike and joyous set. Arnarson’s humility and love for music is painstakingly clear to see and it whisks you away to, as cliché as this may sound, a higher, happier level of being.” – That’s how the review of that show red, however, whilst their music, bright and danceable alt rock combining with illustrious, piano and sharp guitar centric prog, with similarities to Muse and Leprous, it was their atmosphere that proved so alluring. They warmed up the already sun-kissed city with their charm and bubbling charisma; they melted hearts with music coming from their own.
Another review of the band lead a writer to describe the band as “a male version of Björk with a band coming from a Rage Against The Machine angle.” Either way, this is a must see band if you like your alt rock, especially too if you like it on the adventurous side.
But There’s More…
Bleeding dark, ominous synth grooves, accentuated by disturbing but rhythmically incessant yet atypical drum work, Wrexham band Gallops will be bringing their instrumental experimental rock to Sheffield. They purposefully deviate from ‘industry’ standard music, instead tucking themselves into their own shadowy corner and jamming out convulsive, harrowing tracks with heavy gravity that you can’t help but become transfixed by. There’s something big and hairy yet engrossing and hypnotic to their sound; it sucks you in, swallows you whole then spits you back out.
The waves the solo work from Reuben mainman Jamie Lenman have been rippling bigger and bigger in the past few years, to the point now his new two track EP with Arcane Roots’ guitarist/vocalist Andrew Groves, a celestial and soulful, emotively charged effort has been anticipated with huge excitement. Long Gone is under two minutes and shouts and riffs with a feral velocity while Irrelevant is slower and more exposed, with the two vocalists entangling beautifully and together the tracks show a diversity in his songwriting which will help leave the audience guessing.
You could say that having cellist and composer Jo Quail on this bill is something of a curveball. That is until you realise that every band here is a curveball in their own right and as such the lucid dreamscape her contemplative, classically centred music produces will make for a wonderful change of pace on the night.
Leeds progressive rockers KOYO will no doubt illuminate the show with their hazy, breezy and melodically rich sound. Seeing them in Manchester last April, Anthony Firmin reflected on their performance with the words: “Dreamily sophisticated on their studio recordings, live they are an altogether different proposition. They straddle a line between Pure Reason Revolution and 65daysofstatic but with an experimental flavour which shows a definite nod to Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles.”
Manchester’s ambient post-rock band Pijn have been gaining serious momentum in the last year or so, with the release of their Tanzaro House EP back in September whisking its listeners away into a juxtaposed world of airy and genteel, graceful melodies and hard edged, chugging rhythms where the drums rumble with menace and delicacy all the same. Of course MR is biased to its own brethren, but regardless, this is a band doing great things. Luckily, the world seems to be taking notice.
Bristol post-metallers Svalbard – who are Holy Roar labelmates with Pijn – are probably the heaviest band on the bill who will inject dextrous adrenaline and clinical aggression, with hints of a dreamier Converge, into the day’s music. Sandwiched in-between two slower, more atmospheric bands – Talons a band with captivatingly enormous sound that finds its signature brew wallowing in swathes of reverb and pounding rhythms – their speed and attack will be a real spectacle to bear witness too. We can already hear and see their vocalist’s spit staining the microphone. But before all that, The Physics House Band will have already unravelled their angular and scientific – the band all met while studying physics at Brighton University – math rock meets prog-psych sound for the early arrivals. You should be one of them, their musicianship and song craftsmanship is electric with innovation and avant garde pulses which your body, despite their eccentricity, can’t help but respond and move to.
Take our word for it and you won’t regret it. Join us in Sheffield to witness X gloriously exciting bands – most of whom are British – who are all very special in their own, individualistic right.
Tickets are a steal at just £6 and can be bought from here - https://bit.ly/2uOhubu